Management’s pursuit for growth is essential for it to survive in the long term. It needs to have a viable market standing and be continually relevant for its customers. The potential of any business is always greater than what is actually realized. Therefore, to achieve growth it becomes imperative that this potential be systematically exploited.

There is a general assumption that lack of growth is often due to external forces, eg economic slowdown, crisis like the current pandemic or changes in government policies. While this may partly be true, it is usually the internal factors that are more causal to this outcome which, in fact, are entirely preventable and addressable.

We highlight some of these causes below (not exhaustive), addressing which would help bring back the growth momentum. These are lack of:

  • A Clear Strategy – derived from a bold vision, the strategy needs to define clearly the ‘Where to play’ and ‘How to win’ choices. Often, leaders mistake goals for strategy and do not give adequate attention to building a strong & distinctive value proposition around these choices. Not having a comprehensive view of competition to be able to create unique value for customers compounds the problem.
  • Customer Targeting – the customer segmentation is limited to a broad level and is not granular enough to make a meaningful impact. Further, within each segment the selection of customers to target is not well thought out and may cover a large scope making the strategy disconnected over time. Leaders often forget the maxim in business - ‘Everything = Nothing’
  • Growth Framework – ‘Sell harder’ is not the solution to the problem. What is missing is a structured framework for growth centered around customers - both existing & new, product/service offer, leveraging of existing business position and sales excellence. There is enough headroom available in each area which can be exploited thru detailed data analytics.
  • Innovation – Innovations are limited to only efficiency & process improvements or at best are those that enhance performance incrementally. They are not aimed to be transformative, adapting the current business model to new trends and changing market conditions 1. Risk of cannibalizing the existing model thinking, ‘not-invented-here’ attitude or lack of imagination in the teams often inhibit adoption of new ideas and the organization is generally slow to respond.
  • Talent – Having the right people on the bus is critical for growth. Not taking timely action to replace non-performers with A-players or not investing enough to upskill the team results in slowing the momentum.
  • Governance – ‘What gets measured gets done’ is a proven adage, but non-clarity on which key metrics to focus on leads to poor execution of the strategy. In addition, not holding people accountable for the actions and commitments leads to mediocrity.

Leaders don’t create growth – they create conditions for growth. The key questions for leaders to reflect upon are:

  1. 1. Which of the factors highlighted above can you honestly say are representative for your organization? What are the limitations within each?
  2. 2. How can these be addressed/changed in a deeper sense to revitalize the growth agenda?
  3. 3. How can you balance the short-term with long-term initiatives to keep the growth momentum going?

1.Refer our earlier insight “Recognizing Macro Trends” for more details